The president of China, Xi Jinping, was the first to visit Zimbabwe since 1996 when he visited the country on Tuesday to sign ten economic agreements. He and his wife were cheerfully greeted by Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, as “a true and dear friends.”
President Mugabe has been accused of human rights violations and rigging votes. He has increasingly appealed to China for financial assistance with Zimbabwe’s struggling economy, sighting the need for better power, water and roads. China’s Export and Import Bank agreed to provide over $1 billion for a massive expansion of the Hwange thermal power station. This expansion is hoped to help end Zimbabwe’s astronomical electric shortages.
Other agreements that were signed by Xi and Mugabe’s government officials were for a pharmaceutical warehouse and a new parliament building. The total value of the agreements has not been disclosed.
Mugabe believes that Zimbabwe and China foster many of the same ideals.
We share the same conviction that only a fair, just and non-prescriptive world order, based on the principles of the charter of the United Nations, can deliver the development we all need.
Over 100 Chinese companies are investing in Zimbabwe. “There is a lot of interest in all sectors of the economy from Chinese investors,” said Chinese finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa. “This visit gives a guide to Chinese investors that Zimbabwe is a safe destination for their investments.”
According to analysts, Zimbabwe’s economic troubles are not going to solved by China in the long-term. The struggling African nation saw inflation that skyrocketed during a decade-long recession which ended in 2009.
“It’s not going to change our economic fortunes in the short term,” said economist at the University of Zimbabwe’s business school, Antony Hawkins. “Considering what has happened with past deals, we are sceptical of promises of big, megaprojects. We have had a lot of Chinese involvement before, but little improvement has happened.”
President Xi next flies to Johannesburg ahead of a China-Africa summit.